The European Statistics Agency Eurostat yesterday released their report on Irish Water, forcing the company to stay on the State Exchequer Balance Sheet for years to come.
The company has been deemed not sufficiently independent and therefore must stay on the State’s balance sheet, which is set to cost the State millions.
Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, has said that the outcome was “embarrassing” for the government, however insists that it won’t impact the Budget 2016.
The company, owned by business mogul Denis O’Brien, had received a strong recommendation from the Central Statistics Office Ireland in favour of the company becoming independent of the state, however due to numerous factors Eurostat denied their request.
The decision is set to cause the annual deficit to be 0.2% of GDP higher each year until 2020 and will cause the National Debt to rise by up to €600 million. It will all leave the State with less money to invest in other areas.
It is believed one of the key factors in their decision was the payment of the €100 water conservation grant which the Government had agreed to pay out to any customers who had registered before the closing date of the 30th of June 2014. The grant alone was set to cost the state over €6 million in the coming year according to Tanaiste Joan Burton.
It is also thought that the mass non-payment and non-registration had an impact on their decision. Irish Water released the results of their first 12-week billing period on the 15th of July 2015, wherein only 46% of customers in 1.32 million registered households paid their bills amounting to €30.5 million of an expected €66.8 million. However these figures do not take into account the households which have not registered with the company.
Demonstrations by groups such as Right2Water in the past year have greatly influenced public attitude towards Irish Water and their mass non-payment of the company has been hugely successful as 54% of registered households have not yet paid their first bill amounting to losses of €36.3 million, however the company’s expected losses are set to increase as only 1.32 million households had registered to begin with.
The group Right2Water have an upcoming mass demonstration in Dublin on the 29th of August 2015 at 2.00pm which is set to be their largest protest so far, expected to draw crowds of over 100,000 to the city centre.